More musings from 1987
First the Scottish Tourist Board transferred Castle Tioram into Morvern. Now, in the Highlands and Islands Development Board’s annual report, Ardtoe has been moved there as well. Is this a conscious, concerted effort to have ‘Morvern revisited’ or is it all happening to keep the editorial team of ‘De tha dol?’ on their mettle?
During his Glasgow Fair holidays, a fella came into the Book Nook and asked if we had a copy of ‘No Mean City’. Said he: ‘It’s out of print in ‘Glesca’, but I thought it might still be in print up here.’ Fortunately he went on his way rejoicing with the one and only second-hand copy we possessed. Aye, all the fun of the Glasgow Fair.
Oh, but they do have such fun ‘Up the Hill’, where a young local executive left his 20s behind last week. A placard had duly appeared in the front window of his house. ‘Ian is 30 today’, it proclaimed. Within minutes a notice went up in the living room window of the house across the road. ‘So what? My dad’s 55’, it read.
I appreciated the alacrity with which Fort William Community Council rushed to defend its honour which had been sullied by a Lochaber ratepayer from across the loch. The ‘sullying’ occurred on Radio Scotland after said ratepayer had been misquoted after he said on air his community council had not met for months. Radio Scotland construed this to mean Fort William Community Council. Into action sprang the publicity machine at Fort William Community Council and a letter of clarification and justification was subsequently read over the airwaves. It culminated in Jimmy Mack’s ‘feed’ apologising to the ‘good people of Loch-Aiber’!
I got my blessings after going on about how wonderful was the local weather forecaster who chose Thursday as our market day. It rained like it had never done before on the next two Thursdays. But the buidseachd was lifted last Thursday, thank goodness, and the marketeers are speaking to me again. However, on the previous two market days Seonaid did do a roaring trade in wet suits and Angus sold plenty of wet fish.
It was like a combination of the League of Nations and the Tower of Babel at a local camping site and bunkhouse complex at the weekend. Italians, French, Germans, Americans, the lot. And all of them shouting at the tops of their voices in their own tongue. During this turmoil, a couple of tups broke free from where they had been shepherded and were pursued by the elderly sheepman. One of the tups shot into the bunkhouse and when the shepherd, along with the League of Nations, got there, all they could see inside was the tup making sheep’s eyes at them. They then discovered it was curled up on one of the bunks.
During the delay caused by last week’s shunt at Fort William Station, a bloke got off the train and hurried along the underpass. Coming towards him was Jimmy. ‘Quick, pal, where’s the nearest boozer?’, cried the held-up passenger. Jimmy was quicker than quick. ‘ You’re in luck, a’balach. You’re talking to him.’
The amiable organiser of the mounted fancy dress competition at the Lochaber Show has been putting in regular appearances in his social circle once again. So Bob was the recipient of a great big ‘thank you’ from some of his show colleagues in the middle of the Happy Valley arena. Aye, they locked him inside a cattle float. At one stage it looked as if Bob was going to hit the drove road to Forfar, but they let him out and he’s now happily back in the fold.
Heard at last week’s environmental health services committee meeting in Lochaber House. Landward councillor: ‘Does Highland region have no input into these toilets?’ Urban councillor: ‘No, it is purely a district council function.’ And all said without even a flicker of a smile. Deadpan, in fact. The debate got a bit bogged down after that and you got the feeling some councilllors were only going through the motions...
I met Margaret Mac on the Rocky Brae on Monday. At least I think it was Margaret as I couldn’t see all of her for the weeds growing like triffids all the way up. As she said to me, looking down at the dozen cars parked in the ‘pedestrian priority’ Cameron Square: ‘It’s okay if you’re a visitor, but to blazes with you if you’re local.’
This is my last word on the visit of the Prince of Wales. And it comes from a long way away. From Queensland, Australia, in fact. Jean (Horner) Parkin was over there on holiday from Hong Kong. She picked up a copy of the ‘Cairns Post’ and read the following: ‘Prince Charles, known to have a penchant for remote spots, went mountaineering in Fort William, Scotland, yesterday, in his kilt, in return for an inscribed ice axe and a bottle of Scotch.’ Trust an Oz daily to get its royal priorities right. Said Jean in a letter home to the family in Lochaber: ‘It just let’s you see how famous the Fort is all over the world.’
Home quote of the week came from Colin Neilson Junior to Colin Neilson Senior. As he and Grace were away on holiday, Colin senior phoned Colin junior to find out the Fort result against Inverness Thistle. ‘Nine nil for Thistle, and our goalie got booked,’ was the vital information. Ignoring the score, Colin senior asked why the keeper was yellow carded. Came the reply: ‘For loitering.’
Fort William painters freshening up Kinloch Castle on Rum in 1939.